Rugs have a history rooted in ancient times. And thanks to the new constructions and fibers, the traditional art of rug weaving has evolved into a more prominent element in today's interior fashion. The change is constant, and at times, difficult to keep up with — which is why we thought to curate some relatable episodes from Mafi's expert team of buyers, designers and weavers to shine some light on the matter! We call it “Design with Intention”. Whether you’re in the market to buy a new rug, or you’re an interior designer trying to learn the fundamentals, we hope to provide some valuable content to help you “design with intention... from the ground up!”
Where is my rug made?
The five most prominent manufacturing countries are Nepal, Egypt, India, China and Turkey. Like any other industry, each country has its comparative advantages. India, for example, is the world’s leader in hand-tufted rugs because of their skilled labor. Egypt, on the other hand, has the proper infrastructure and knowledge to create a large volume of machine made rugs, and Nepal (the home of Mafi’s Signature rug collections) is well-known for producing hand-knotted rugs.
Most Nepali rugs are made using Himalayan wool with elaborate designs paired with perfectly mellowed tones of colors. Rug weaving in Nepal dates back all the way to the 16th century, finding the spotlight during the British invasion in the 19th century. Today, these rugs are some of the most sought-after among interior designers and rug connoisseurs alike.
Nepali rugs were initially made of highland sheep’s wool from Tibet. As time went on, Nepali rugs adopted high quality wool from New Zealand and India, and recently the emergence of other natural fibers such as bamboo, banana and hemp have contributed to some of the most intricate and interesting textures included in the Mafi signature and custom rug collections.
Egypt is the world’s largest manufacturer of machine-made rugs. Rugs from Egypt are power-loomed on a Wilton loom, which uses a mechanism to regulate the feeding of pile yarns into the loom to form a pattern. Machine-made rugs can be made using nearly any fibers, although synthetic fibers are most commonly used.
In India, rug making started from the days of the great Mughal ruler Akbar who brought Persian influences on the north of India and encouraged the art of carpet making. The weavers from those days passed on their skills to the next generation, and this is how the craft continues to survive to this day.
Though the designs on Indian rugs are indebted to the Persian style, they are today distinguished by their intelligent mix of both traditional and modern design styles with close attention to detail and texture.
Most area rugs from India are made by using the asymmetrical knot, and are technically superior due to their particularly dense knotting. The foundation is generally made of cotton and wool pile, though sometimes silk is used both in the foundation of the rug and for its pile.
Like Nepal, India also has recently benefited from the use of other fibers such as bamboo and hemp as seen here in Mafi’s eco-friendly Regal infusion collection designed for today's modern homes and lifestyles.
China is one of the largest manufacturers of hand-tufted rugs and hooked rugs, including shags. The most commonly used fibers in China are synthetics, like polyester and polypropylene. China is a manufacturer of indoor/outdoor rugs, constructed of synthetic fibers that are engineered to resist damage from water and UV.
Like Egypt, Turkey also manufactures a significant volume of the world’s machine-made rugs. The rugs are power-loomed using essentially the same machines that are used in Egypt.